For Hearing Protection - Molded or Foam IEMs?

Gas Hed

I'm exploring IEMs primarily for hearing protection during practice and ultimately on stage. Wondering, do molded IEMs provide better hearing protection than foam tips?


Molded, as in customs? If so, they would probably give a bit more isolation than most non-customs, though there are some customs that are "ported" to allow ambient sound, and those don't have as much.

I've used iems for hundreds of shows now, for the same reason you are looking at them, mostly with Shure 215s and I prefer the silicone "harpoon" triple-flange style tips. These have a lot of isolation. Memory foams work well too. You have to find the size and style and work with your ears, you can buy different tips provided you get the right size that fits the earbud (there is a shaft they go on, and these can be different sizes).

I also have customs and can't use them, because there in an occlusion effect when I sing. Basically a pressure buildup due to the exact fit I guess, when I open my mouth to sing it blocks out the other instruments.

Give yourself time to get used to them, have a backup plan for a while at least if you need to fall back to get through a gig. (ie, bring a wedge or whatever you were doing before). I recommend having a limiter in whatever you are going to use for a headphone amp.


Platinum Supporting Member
I use both the domed foam tips and a custom molded set with 415’s. For practice, it’s just the foam tips, they work really well to a point for me. I have an odd shaped ear canal and they have a tendency to come out…but they are great while seated. I’ve tried all of the options that come with the shares, none of them perform better for me.

the custom molded set are amazing though, there is more isolation and therefore more clarity for me as they both stay put and fully seal my ear canal. My other band mates have not gone the molded route and are just fine with the default tips, although they each use different ones.

i would suggest trying the tip options that come with the earbuds and see what works.

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